My thoughts have been turning to hurricanes recently. Some of this is because we are well into August now and my time living on the Georgia coast reminds me that this is about the point when hurricane season gets real. We never actually got hit by a hurricane while we lived around Savannah, but we were always mindful of them as they progressed across the Atlantic and threatened nearby. Even though they are a destructive and awful thing, I’ve always found myself fascinated by hurricanes (much like I am simultaneously fascinated by and terrified of tornadoes). I can remember being stuck in traffic around DeRenne Ave. on many occasions while trying to get from downtown Savannah to south side and just starting at that image of hurricane Floyd someone painted on the earth replica water tank there. I must have studied that hurricane painting for hours, marveling at how massive it is sprawled out along the coast and all swirling around that central eye.
That’s the thing that fascinates me most about hurricanes. They are so chaotic in their outer arms with all the wind and the rain, but the central core of them is so still and calm. And it seems to be the calm center that is integral to the entire life of the hurricane. Maybe that is why I’m so intrigued by hurricanes, because part of me relates to them quite well. While I pray that I’m not as destructive as a hurricane, I certainly feel like I am swirling bands of chaos some days. Between keeping up with my children, working even part-time, and all the other responsibilities in my life, sometimes I feel like I just spin and spin and am not even sure where I am going. I’m all twirling arms juggling responsibilities with no center to push me forward. But to get through life we too need a strong, calm center. Beneath the driver of kids, cooker of meals, teacher of yoga, there’s got to be some central part of me beyond all else that sinks deep with quiet and stillness. Quite frankly, I think that’s just how we were designed.
For its not just hurricanes or harried parents who spin. The planets spin around the central point of the sun. Some think the very universe spins around a central still point. It as if God just designs things this way. Movement and activity is a necessary and important part of life, but movement without a still core to lead it is reckless.
We’ve been talking about that in my yoga classes recently. I lead my students through a few spinal twist moves from standing positions. Now my first impulse in a twist can be to fling myself from side to side with my arms as I can get more movement and momentum this way. But flinging yourself in a spinning twist can easily lead to an injury in the back. Instead of flinging, I always try to remind myself and my students to lead the spin with our core. We think about our belly buttons as a fulcrum from which the rest of our body slowly and intentionally rotates side to side. We may not move as far or as fast this way, but we are moving with purpose and causing less destruction to ourselves and others.
So the next time you feel like you are spinning with no purpose, remember your core. That central place that God put within you and asked you to dive deep in regularly in order to make you strong. Sometimes I find mine through breathing deeply, walking outside, or reading Scripture. Apparently sometimes I find it by starting at hurricane paintings while stuck in traffic jams. What helps you connect with and strengthen your still center?